The brand formerly known as The Hess Collection — now officially Hess Persson Estates — will be familiar to most readers, but many don’t realize that the brand bottles wine under a number of different labels. In fact, “The Hess Collection” no longer appears on either of the bottlings reviewed below, which includes a look at a cabernet from its revamped, top-of-the-line Lion Tamer label.
2018 Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast – Something’s immediately off here, the wine showcasing overwhelmingly earthy, mushroomy, heavily balsamic character; if it had gone a little further down that road I would have suspected something was off with the bottle. As it stands, it’s loaded with notes of charred green vegetables, some creosote, and licorice, a sharp black cherry note slightly brightening things up before finishing with a somewhat animalistic funk. Weird as hell. C- / $20
2018 Lion Tamer Cabernet Sauvignon – Cab, plus a touch of malbec. An iconic California cabernet, as rich as they come. Incredible notes of dark chocolate and plum meld beautifully with a lush currant character, with gentle notes of dried florals creeping in later in the game. A healthy touch of vanilla, spiced nuts, and a hint of cinnamon all linger in various proportions on the endless back end. There are no major surprises around any given corner with this release of Lion Tamer, but there’s no shortage of juicy, lush, berry-driven character to keep you occupied all the same. A- / $65